The Irish-based computer security company Baltimore announced deals to secure the next generation of mobile Internet phones, running on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks.
The technology, which has been used to secure Ericsson’s flagship GPRS handset, the R520, was developed in co-operation with AU-Systems, the software company behind Ericsson’s WAP browser, and Gemplus, a smart card manufacturer.
Ericsson R520 GPRS handsets will be secured with digital certificates, encrypted keys used to guarantee the identity of a phone users. A Wireless Public Key Infrastructure (WPKI) will co-ordinate the exchange and implementation of encryption keys.
Mobile manufacturers agree that while greater bandwidth may be the key to attracting consumers to Internet-enabled phones and PDAs, the security of these devices is also of paramount importance.
Given the limited success of WAP, manufacturers and mobile Internet companies hope to provide mobile e-commerce services take off in Europe based on a more robust and secure GPRS platform. Many believe that despite the US-driven dotcom gloom, Europe's mobile lead can show a way out of the tech downturn.
"Ericsson regards mobile e-commerce as one of the exciting new applications enabled by the combination of sufficient security level in the phone and the greatly enhanced data transmission rates offered by GPRS," said Bo Albretson, marketing director for Ericsson Mobile Communications.
GPRS networks offer significantly more bandwidth than GSM, the current standard for mobile phones. Currently estimated to deliver around 56kb/s instead of 9kb/s and uses the Internet Protocol (IP) backbone and packet based communications.